When we make our budgets, we generally assume that the income will be steady, and that there won’t be disasters. But sometimes bad things happen to good people. Your spouse might get laid off or fired, or the hours at the job might get cut. Your car may decide to conk out on you, leaving you with a huge repair bill. If you’ve already cut your budget to what you think is the bare minimum, what can you do?
Tip #1: Cut Out Dining Out
Many of us enjoy a nice evening out on the town. Whether it’s going through the drive-thru at Mickey D’s, or going to a fancy sit down dinner, dining out should be the first thing you cut. And by cut, I mean eliminate completely. This is a hard thing to do, because we imagine it might be cheaper to dine out, when it isn’t. For example, let’s take a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, which costs $3.19. If you were to make the same burger at home, it would cost about $0.45 for a quarter pound of ground beef, $0.10 for a bun, and you might spend $0.05 worth of ketchup and mustard, which comes to a total of about 60 cents. Fast food doesn’t seem like such a good deal when you compare the costs.
Tip #2: Dry Your Clothes on a Clothesline
You might be surprised at just how much energy your dryer is sucking up every month. Depending on how many loads you average, you can save $50 a month. This step does take time and effort to implement and stick to, but it’s not an impossible task. We simply ran a few strands of twine between the studs in our unfinished basement. Aside from saving money on not running the dryer, you also will save on the energy costs you’d be racking up from having to cool down your house after the dryer heats it up.
Tip #3: Immediately Cancel All Unnecessary Recurring Expenses
You might not realize just how much money you’re spending each month on unnecessary purchases, because they seem so inconsequential. Even though a subscription to Netflix at $10 a month seems cheap, it’s not something you can afford when your budget is in a state of emergency. Cutting out your cable, Netflix, satellite radio, XBOX Live, and DVR subscriptions can save you over $100 a month, depending on your current situation.
Tip #4: Eat The Food You Have
Most people have a stockpile of food sitting around. A lot of times we buy things on sale and then forget about them as they sit in our freezers and pantries. This is the time to get creative with your food. Use the Internet to find ways to use the ingredients you already have on hand. It might not be haute cuisine, but at least you’ll be able to pay your bills. Make a commitment to yourself that you will not buy groceries until all the food you have in reserve is eaten, with the exception of bread, milk, and margarine. You’ll be surprised how long the food you already have will last. Most people spend $350 a month on groceries, so you can realize a huge chunk of savings.
Tip #5: Stop Shopping (For Now)
Some people are shoppers, others are not, and still others think they’re not, but in reality they are. Unless you’re the type of person who never ever shops, you can save a lot by simply not going . Even if you only go shopping once a week, and you only spend $20, you can save $80 a month by cutting out this habit.
This is not forever. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Once you get back on track, financially speaking, you’ll be able to add these luxuries back into your life. It takes effort and self-discipline to follow these tips, but you’ll be glad you did when you’re able to pay all your bills on time.